DAMIEN DUFF LAST admitted ‘it was about time’ the Boys in Green sealed qualification for a major championships in the wake Ireland’s Euro 2012 play-off success.
The Fulham man was a promising young winger when Ireland last took centre-stage, as he starred at the World Cup finals in Japan and Korea in 2002.
He will travel to Ukraine and Poland next summer however as one of Giovanni Trapattoni’s more experienced players, with a decade of frustration at international level behind him.
“It’s an amazing feeling – it’s probably even better than [reaching the World Cup in] 2002 because time is running out for a few of us, so I suppose you appreciate it more now,” Duff told Sky Sports after the 1-1 draw with Estonia.
“It’s brilliant and it’s about time – 25 years since we’ve been to the Euros and 10 since we got to a major tournament.”
Duff, of course, was one of many Irish players left shattered by the events in Paris two years ago. That exit made Tuesday night all the sweeter.
“We’ve walked around Lansdowne Road a few times with nothing to show for it at the end of campaigns, so to qualify here I think is special for everyone.
“Everybody wants to play in a major tournament and now to have the opportunity is going to be great, but I think for everyone in the squad it’s about enjoying tonight and enjoying the qualification.”